Innovative new school project launched to boost inclusion

Councillor Rachel Massey.
Councillor Rachel Massey, cabinet member for children’s services and education.

Published: 28 September 2022

Rochdale Borough Council is launching a new collaborative project to improve inclusion across the borough, working with all local secondary schools, special schools and alternative provision.

Inclusion is where all children and young people are able to learn together in an environment that caters to their individual social, emotional and physical needs. An inclusive approach offers equitable access to opportunity and ensures no child is left behind.

Place-based change charity Right to Succeed will work with the council and all secondary schools in the borough to develop a 3-year programme that builds on existing work as well as offering new, proven initiatives, supporting inclusion.

Schools will be supported to learn from best practice and develop solutions to better support all pupils to succeed. A similar programme in Blackpool led to a significant reduction in permanent exclusions across participating schools.

The partnership will draw on Right to Succeed’s experience of partnership working. Over the last 7 years they have worked both in the North West and other regions across the UK and, through the experience of a network of organisations, have worked on inclusion nationally.

Rochdale Borough Council and Rochdale schools are co-funding and driving this programme forward, demonstrating that local education leaders are ambitious for children and young people.

The work will also build on the council’s transformation plan for education, Raising Rochdale, which aims to further enhance Rochdale as a great place to grow up, get on in life and live well. It will ensure the borough meets the needs of all children and young people from birth to the age of 25, including those with special educational needs and disabilities. Inclusion is a key focus under this plan because when children are in school they are supported, accessing education and are safe.

Councillor Rachel Massey, cabinet member for children’s services and education at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “This exciting and ambitious programme will allow us to explore current practice across all our schools and reinforce the work which needs to take place to inform change, for the benefit of Rochdale young people, enabling them to aspire to their full potential”.

The programme will start at the end of September 2022, with an initial 12-month discovery phase to understand what impactful assets and initiatives already exist, what’s working well and what could help. The findings from this process will help to inform the co-design of the delivery plan alongside the schools and the council.

Headteacher Janice Allen.

Janice Allen, head teacher at Falinge Park High School.

Janice Allen, headteacher at Falinge Park High School, said: “It is imperative that we work together to address the issues that were there before coronavirus (COVID-19) and then exacerbated by the pandemic, to provide a place in all our schools where children can learn, feel safe and succeed. Schools cannot do this in isolation, it needs place-based, multi-agency working, which this project promises to be. By joining with Right to Succeed, who have a proven track record, we can improve our practice and be evidence-informed so we can support our children, families and communities much more effectively.”

Paul O’Neill, chief programmes officer at Right to Succeed, said: “We are delighted to be working with Rochdale Borough Council and schools in the borough on this programme. No single organisation can sustainably shift the dial on intractable issues, such as inclusion, but by adopting a collective approach and ensuring local people are at the heart of decision-making, then together we can.”

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